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388Southern Cultures Great Depression, World War II, recreation, kinship, and death. Although the geographical coverage is satisfactory, the southeast Wiregrass area of the state is notably undenepresented in the interviews. The book contains little analysis beyond organizing assumptions, although such assumptions do reveal much about Alabama. For instance, dividing chapters on country and city life into "upper" and "lower" Alabama recognizes historic patterns of sectionaUsm within the state. Attention to religion and kinship assumes that ordinary people found effective ways to cope with extraordinary trouble. Underlying the section on education is the herculean effort of people to prepare their chUdren for better lives and the often naive faith they had in schools as a panacea. Few histories of Alabama speak of baseball, football, or fishing. Yet the frequency with which these interviewees speak of such recreation makes it clear that social historians need to spend much more time on the way in which ordinary pastimes afford meaning to life. Scholars will find useful interviews with black middleclass businessmen, mountain-bound poor whites who extol the merits of Sears and Roebuck mail-order catalogs, and antiunion industrial workers who voted Republican. But such organizing assumptions contain neither systematic analysis nor sustained discussion derived from the interviews. In this regard the book is disappointing. The strength of this work, then, as with the volumes by Terkel, is in its impressions . Whatever these people are, they are not inarticulate. In fact, perhaps the most profound interview is with an iUiterate black day worker. His intense work ethic defies white stereotypes even as his illiteracy bends and confines his opportunity. Finally given his grand opportunity when a kindly white employer teaches him to drive a truck and carry loads to Nashville, the hapless man realizes he can't read maps or road signs and has to find alternative ways to locate his destination. It is in such small human dramas that this book opens a window into a world largely ignored by historians. As a professional historian I learned little from this book that I did not know already. As a human being reading about funeral rituals, fishing, migration, football, folk medicine, unionism, the demeaning treatment of black railroad porters, bear wrestling, courting, country cooking, and a dozen other topics, I was thoroughly entertained and utterly fascinated. Black and White: Reflections of a White Southern Sociologist. By Lewis M. Killian. General Hall, Inc., 1994. 227 pp. Cloth, $34.95. Reviewed by Leslie Dunbar, a political scientist who lives in Durham, North Carolina. His most recent book is Reclaiming LiberaUsm. Autobiographical writing must require some degree of boldness. Politicians and generals and other "stars" of our firmament have that, usually in abundance. More modest human beings have to make a case for claiming other people's attention. Lewis Killian does. He does by giving us several ways of reading this, his latest of a notable series of books: as tour de force, telling of our modern race struggle by weaving it through the chapters of KiIlian 's own life and work; as critique of sociology; as evaluation of the potential of the social scientist as an agent of social reform; as portrait of a liberal and his perhaps prototypical journey through the second half of our century. The subtitle is to be taken literally: Reviews389 he is reflecting—looking back and rethinking—he is white, he is (despite many years of teaching in New England) determinedly and insistently southern, and he is a sociologist. The South's biracial history and society have made autobiographers of many. Race relations, having been so desperately complicated, are to no one's satisfaction reducible to tight and lucid description, and southerners, black and white, have wanted to teU "how it is" by recounting their own stories. Almost every southerner can, and wiU, tell you her or his, and a great many southerners have written their stories. As long as "it is people we study"— as Killian once insisted—autobiographies can indeed be sources of learning. KilUan's is. Killian began the preface of his 1967 book, The Impossible Revolution?, with the declaration , "This is a pessimistic book," and ended its analysis of the nation's racial tensions by grimly...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1534-1488
Print ISSN
1068-8218
Pages
pp. 388-390
Launched on MUSE
2012-01-04
Open Access
No
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